The Canadian Shield is a massive geological shield covered by igneous rock. That’s rock created by volcanoes! It was part of a massive volcanic mountain way back before life even existed on this planet! The shield has been long-eroded by glacial activity, which basically scours the landscape and gradually shaves down mountains. It resulted in a lot of very rugged country and thousands of pristine lakes with steep rock outcroppings ¬above and below water. That rugged sub-surface structure is walleye heaven, providing great ambush locations and continuous points-of-contact for bottom-hugging walleyes throughout the entire water column.
When you arrive at an Ontario shield lake, the first order of business is to get a good lake contour map. If your GPS has a map chip for that lake, even better. One look at the map will immediately help you identify the key structures on which to focus, namely: points, humps, holes and saddles. After you’ve identified these locations, take a closer look at them. Highlight the structures that top out in shallow water (5-10 feet) and descend to deep water (30+ feet). This is an ideal situation because a structure like this gives walleyes the ability to relate to bottom in any depth at which the forage exists.
Once you get on the water, explore the chosen spots with your sonar unit. My Lowrance serves as my eyes underwater. I continuously watch the screen as I cruise over promising structure. If I don’t see fish in a spot, I don’t wet a line. I move on. If I do mark fish, I note the depth and investigate the entire area at that depth to locate the highest concentration of walleyes. That’s when the fun begins!
I almost always begin fishing with my #1 go-to bait: a jig tipped with a minnow, leech, or sometimes a crawler. If the fish are at a suitable depth where the boat doesn’t spook them, I prefer to get right above them and present the bait vertically. This gives you terrific bait control, sensitivity, and successful hookset percentages. If the fish are fairly shallow in clear water, I present the bait by casting or long-line trolling with the Minn Kota. Orange and chartreuse jigs are good choices in shield lakes, but be prepared to experiment if the fish are tight-lipped.
As I mentioned before, these Ontario shield lake structures can be very steep. So if the walleyes are relating to a specific depth, say 22 feet, that zone of productive water on a steep drop-off is very narrow. Therefore, precise boat control is essential for staying in the strike zone. Add wind or current to the mix and fishing steep breaks will turn you into a boat-control expert in a hurry!
The reward for going to Ontario is non-stop walleye action along with the discovery of newfound fishing talents. You’re well on your way to success if you do your homework, identify productive areas via mapping or GPS, and present classic walleye baits at the right depth. The vast number of shield lakes just across the border is jaw-dropping! To find the ideal walleye fishery near you, check out GoFishInOntario.com. You’ll discover that the walleye trip of a lifetime is incredibly easy and affordable to achieve.